Allergic Reactions: Do You Know What to Do?

A food allergy is an abnormal reaction by your body’s immune system to certain foods. Foods such as milk, eggs, nuts, shellfish and soy are the most common triggers for an allergic reaction; however, many other foods can be triggers. Allergic reactions also can be caused by insect stings, a newly prescribed medication or nutritional supplement.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can differ from person to person and may begin within minutes or hours. Typical symptoms include hives, itching, skin flushing, swelling of the lips and mouth, throat tightness or voice hoarseness. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or cramping also can be symptoms.

Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction and is life-threatening. Anaphylaxis can include the symptoms listed above but also involve difficulty breathing, wheezing, and feeling as if the tongue is swelling and the throat is closing. Severe allergic reactions are an emergency and require calling 911 for help right away.

What to Do if You Experience an Allergic Reaction at Ocean Reef

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, call 911, describe your symptoms, and tell the operator that you are at Ocean Reef. It is not recommended that you transport the individual experiencing the allergic reaction to Public Safety or to the Medical Center by golf cart or motor vehicle, as this will generally delay emergency care. Ocean Reef Firefighter-Paramedics are trained and equipped to treat severe allergic reactions and will transport the patient to an emergency medical facility when necessary.

Many individuals who are aware of their allergic reactions to foods, insect stings or other triggers carry an EpiPen, which requires a physician’s prescription. EpiPen prescriptions can be filled at the Ocean Reef Pharmacy or any of the Key Largo pharmacies.

“Keep in mind that the use of an EpiPen may afford someone only a short window of effect, and use of this device almost always merits further evaluation and monitoring,” said Dr. Rene Fernandez, MCOR Director. Calling Emergency Medical Services personnel by dialing 911 is “the best solution for serious allergy reactions as they have specific protocols and supplies to safely handle these issues and escalate management if needed.”

The Medical Center staff wishes everyone a safe and happy New Year.